Background: To evaluate which variables predict recurrence of endocarditis after surgical treatment, we reviewed our 21-year experience.
Methods: Between January 1979 and May 2000, 308 consecutive valve replacement procedures for infective endocarditis were performed in 271 patients. Univariate and multivariate time-related analyses were performed to retrospectively evaluate the role of the following variables in the development of recurrent postoperative endocarditis: gender, site of endocarditis, previous valve disease, drug abuse, diabetes, positive valve/blood cultures, sepsis, perivalvular involvement, previous embolic events, type of replacement device, and persistent postoperative fever.
Results: Clinical and echocardiographic follow-up was 97.36% complete, mean follow-up time was 53.2+/-3.4 months. Recurrent endocarditis developed in 58 cases (22.5%). Variables predicting recurrence were prosthetic endocarditis (p = 0.00001), positive valve culture (p = 0.0039), and persistence of fever at the seventh postoperative day (p = 0.000001).
Conclusions: Correct protocols of antibiotic therapy guided by microbiology may reduce the incidence of recurrent endocarditis to allow for surgery on sterile tissues and to prevent prosthetic infection. Recurrence rate is not affected by the choice of valve substitute, but can be prevented by complete surgical debridement.